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Thread: Felix Mendelssohn

  1. #31
    Senior Member JAKE WYB's Avatar
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    i like to think theres no point in rushing your output young when your just going to come to your peak early - best take it slow and let your voice mature.. thats what i keep telling myself anyway...

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    I think so too, being some kind of miracle, like dancing monkey in circus doesn't seem too attractive to me. But at the other hand, it's not good to wait too long. Nowdays, young composer learn the most important things after 20, when he's on university etc. Every piece he writes could be better if he would wait days or weeks. But it's pointless to wait until you reach, let's say, 40-50. You will be more mature, but there will be much less passion and feelings in your works - the young man lives and experiences more, his soul is on fire, so his music has more depth and meaning. Beethoven composed his major works as an adult, but I really enjoy his salad days works. He was a real devil back then.

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    Alex Prior does sound gifted, there is also a young american called Jay Greenberg that you should look up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    I think so too, being some kind of miracle, like dancing monkey in circus doesn't seem too attractive to me. But at the other hand, it's not good to wait too long. Nowdays, young composer learn the most important things after 20, when he's on university etc. Every piece he writes could be better if he would wait days or weeks. But it's pointless to wait until you reach, let's say, 40-50. You will be more mature, but there will be much less passion and feelings in your works - the young man lives and experiences more, his soul is on fire, so his music has more depth and meaning. Beethoven composed his major works as an adult, but I really enjoy his salad days works. He was a real devil back then.
    I'm happy to disagree with this.

    As a human being, you never stop learning. You learn everyday of your life. You experience things everyday regardless if you're 14 or 90. To say that a composer's work somehow lacks passion and fire after you reach 40 years old is very a narrow-minded statement.

    Yes, it's true that when a musician is younger they do have more energy and perhaps more optimism than that of an older composer, BUT what that younger composer doesn't have is the profound life experiences an older composer has had and continues to have. An older composer has more depth, because they have learned a lot more. When a composer is younger, they tend to throw the "kitchen sink" at a composition. They compose a lot of pieces that have too much going on technically and not enough going on intellectually or emotionally. In many cases, the younger composer writes music that is more emotionally shallow than that of the older composer.

    I think it's rather foolish of anyone to think a composer's work lacks passion when true passion NEVER dies. You may feel different things as you get older and your views change on many things, but that passion never leaves you. I think the introspective nature of older works is also much more rewarding in its own way, than a piece of music written by a younger composer that's just "all over the map."
    Last edited by Mirror Image; Jun-23-2009 at 21:42.

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    Yes, sure thing, experience etc. are important stuff and a musical value, but there is much charm in sometimes even naive works. Maybe I'm making a mistake now, but if I would have to guess (because I don't know), I would say that Berlioz was young man writing Symphonie Fantastique. It is the most naive work I've ever heard. And I don't mean music itself, but the idea and story that it tells. Gray-bearded Brahms would probably laugh at him, after hearing this romantic story.

    I think that young man's fire, naive points of view and yet unleashed will to do something are much greatest things than experience and knowledge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    Yes, sure thing, experience etc. are important stuff and a musical value, but there is much charm in sometimes even naive works. Maybe I'm making a mistake now, but if I would have to guess (because I don't know), I would say that Berlioz was young man writing Symphonie Fantastique. It is the most naive work I've ever heard. And I don't mean music itself, but the idea and story that it tells. Gray-bearded Brahms would probably laugh at him, after hearing this romantic story.

    I think that young man's fire, naive points of view and yet unleashed will to do something are much greatest things than experience and knowledge.
    See my post again, re-read it if you have to, my opinion of this is very clear and to-the-point.

    I happily disagree with you.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    I think what you are discussing depends a lot on the environment and time period. In general I would agree with Aramis though. The older composer (artist writer, whatever) would tend toward more subtlety -- you often see a progression with painters who early in their careers use vivid flashy colors and later tend toward more understated colors and ideas.

    The same may apply to music. But countering that trend is also the freedom a more established composer -- especially Beethoven and others that came after-- to experiment more than they might have when trying to make a living pleasing the publishers or the nobility. Today may be different, but I think today too many young composers have to try too hard to get noticed, and so they too often go for the weirder flashier gimmicks rather than the passion.

    So, passion may never die, but it manifests itself differently as we get older and targets a different audience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weston View Post
    I think what you are discussing depends a lot on the environment and time period. In general I would agree with Aramis though. The older composer (artist writer, whatever) would tend toward more subtlety -- you often see a progression with painters who early in their careers use vivid flashy colors and later tend toward more understated colors and ideas.

    The same may apply to music. But countering that trend is also the freedom a more established composer -- especially Beethoven and others that came after-- to experiment more than they might have when trying to make a living pleasing the publishers or the nobility. Today may be different, but I think today too many young composers have to try too hard to get noticed, and so they too often go for the weirder flashier gimmicks rather than the passion.

    So, passion may never die, but it manifests itself differently as we get older and targets a different audience.
    Good post, well said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    Mendelssohn is considered as one of prodigy childs of classical music. It is said that he wrote many of his great works at incredicibly young age. But is it truth? Sommernachtstraum was written (purportedly) when he was 17, but in fact, he wrote the best parts much later and finished it just before his death. Also the first symphony, written by 15 yeard old Mendelssohn was published in 1831, so it is questionable if he really wrote it when he was 15. What do ya think?
    Korngold wrote most of his better works when he was a teen. And so, sadly, it seems with Mendelssohn, the man never really recapturing the zest and fire of the boy. The overture to Midsummer Night's Dream, has so much wit and fizz, and the later pieces are infected with the pretty and conventional and complacent Victorianism and Biedermeier spirit that infects so much of his later stuff. Although it fortunately isn't redolent with arid academicism.

    Having said that, which sounds like a blisteing critique, I do admire some of the mature works. Few if any fulfill the earlier promise, but I do enjoy Eiljah (despite some sanctimonious and galant moments), the Variations Serieuses, the C minor Trio, the Scottish Symphony (quite powerful at times), Ein Walpurgisnacht, and Fingal's Cave (even Meerestille und Glueckliche Fahrt- I mean who doesn't enjoy a Glueckliche Fahrt on occasion).

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    Mendelssohn was arguably the greatest child prodigy composer of all time. His works written as a teenager outstrip for maturity and complexity most of that written by the young Mozart 60 years before.

    If we look at the list of major works written by Mendelssohn as a teenager:

    String Symphonies Nos 1-7 (12)
    Piano Concerto in A minor (13)
    String Symphony No 8 (13)
    Violin Concerto in D minor (13)
    String Symphonies 9-13 (14)
    3 Piano Quartets (14-16)
    Concerto for 2 Pianos (15)
    Sextet in D major (15)
    Symphony No 1 (15) [yes, he DID write it in 1824 - it was not so unusual for pieces to be published several years after composition - hence often misleading opus numbers]
    String Octet (16)
    Overture: A Midsummer Night's Dream (17)
    String Quartet No 2 (18) [No 1 was published earlier than No 2, but was written when Mendelssohn was 20]
    Overture: Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage (19)

    ... surely we see a remarkable body of work for one so young. Many commentators have asserted that Mendelssohn never really reproduced the spontaneity and inspiration of the music of his youth in later works. To an extent I would agree with this.

    The other composer vying for the title of most prodigious compositional talent would be Erich Wolfgang Korngold, but that's the topic of another thread, surely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    Mendelssohn is considered as one of prodigy childs of classical music. It is said that he wrote many of his great works at incredicibly young age. But is it truth? Sommernachtstraum was written (purportedly) when he was 17, but in fact, he wrote the best parts much later and finished it just before his death. Also the first symphony, written by 15 yeard old Mendelssohn was published in 1831, so it is questionable if he really wrote it when he was 15. What do ya think?
    If you write these nonsense, its evident that you have absolutely no knowledge of Mendelssohn whatsoever.

    Now get yourself a decent recent biography of Mendelssohn, the best one I can offer is by Professor Larry Todd. The Book is called ' Mendelssohn - A life in Music', its about 800 pages, but well worth it, at least after reading this book by the wonderful Mendelssohn scholar, you wouldn’t make such erroneous remarks, this is just too silly.

    Of course Mendelssohn wrote his first symphony when he was 15, what's the big deal? He was an astonishing composer who had many works under his belt even before this symphony. And the Midsummer night's dream overture was actually written at 16 at the same time of the Octet, and only the finishing touches where completed when he was 17, all scholars agree to this.

    I don't know what in the world made you make such wrong remarks, and what was your aim. Do you want to push Mendelssohn away from the title of the greatest musical prodigy in history?

    Well you cant. his position is unshakeable, and even Wagner the anti Semitic was wise enough to say the following, rather famously :" Mendelssohn is the greatest specifically musical genius the world has had since Mozart".

    And if you look at what Mozart had to offer at the same age as Mendelssohn, you will see that Mozart's output didn’t even come anywhere close to Mendelssohn’s Incredible works of 13,14,15,16, and 17.

    So education and history will do you much good, take up on my offer and purchase this book.
    Novelette and Burroughs like this.

  12. #42
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    If you write these nonsense
    I wrote no nonsese. I can't remember from where I took informations about reworking Sommernachtstraum later in his life and date of publishing the symphony (this thread is quite old) but I belive it didn't read it in article from anti-Semitic propaganda newspaper. If you can't stand someone putting greatness of Mendelssohn for debate (there was nothing vicious in my post, I have no interest in abating his genius) it's your problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    I wrote no nonsese. I can't remember from where I took informations about reworking Sommernachtstraum later in his life and date of publishing the symphony (this thread is quite old) but I belive it didn't read it in article from anti-Semitic propaganda newspaper. If you can't stand someone putting greatness of Mendelssohn for debate (there was nothing vicious in my post, I have no interest in abating his genius) it's your problem.
    Your source was ignorant.

    He didn’t rework the Overture but later on Added More pieces at the request of the Prussian King, that's all. But the Overture itself was completed at 17, that's obvious and not a matter of any argument or disagreement.

    The first symphony was completed at 15, that's clear.

    Perhaps its not your fault, but this dude who gave this info, didn’t know what he was talking about, and that's obvious too.

    Mendelssohn’s Great prodigious abilities are not a matter of any disagreement or controversy. Even Schmucks like Wagner, had to read the hand on the wall and tell it as it was, whether they liked it or not.
    Last edited by Saul_Dzorelashvili; Dec-22-2010 at 23:52.

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    Default Felix Mendelssohn



    Felix Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg, on February 3rd, 1809, the son of Leah Salomon, and Abraham Mendelssohn, a wealthy banker, and the grandson of Jewish Rabbi and philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. Being born in a family of well-to-do intellectuals certainly had its advantages, providing the ideal cultural environment for the artistic and precocious young Felix. In addition to receiving a good education, Felix and his family traveled around Europe.

    The move to Berlin proved to be beneficial for young Felix, who had received prior musical instruction from his sister Fanny, as it was there he studied the piano under Ludwig Berger and composition with Karl. F. Zelter. Visiting friends of the family were also a positive influence on the Mendelssohn children, as most of them were intellectuals who were involved in the arts and other cultural activities. From a young age, Felix Mendelssohn showed the true talent of a prodigy, playing both the piano and the violin, painting, and being gifted in languages.

    Felix traveled to Paris to study the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach with his sister Fanny. Truly inspired by the masters, particularly Bach, he composed eleven symphonies, five operas, and many other pieces for the piano. This was only the beginning for the young musical genius, who impressed audiences and artists alike with his precocious talent.

    In 1821, Zelter took his 12 year-old student to visit German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The visit was most important to the young Mendelssohn, who remained at the 72 year-old writer's home for over two weeks. Goethe was fascinated by the gifted young man, and the two would later correspond via a series of letters. Later, when Goethe heard Mendelssohn's B minor pianoforte quartet, he showed such appreciation that the young composer dedicated the piece to him.

    When Felix Mendelssohn was 16, he composed his Octet for Strings in E flat major, Op. 20, which wasn't just impressive because of its composer's age, but because it was the one of the first works of its kind. Mendelssohn's piece featured an ingenious interplay between two distinct string quartets.

    In addition to the literary works of Goethe, Mendelssohn found inspiration in the works of English playwright William Shakespeare. At the age of seventeen, he composed the overture to "A Midsummer Night's Dream Opus 21", based on the Bard's comedic play. The piece featured lush orchestration, and is considered one of the most beautiful works of the Romantic period of Classical music.

    From 1826 to 1829, Mendelssohn studied at Berlin University. It was then he decided on music as his chosen profession.

    During the years that followed, Mendelssohn traveled and performed all over Europe, discovering England, Scotland, Italy and France. In 1832, Mendelssohn presented his magnificent "Hebrides Overture", as well as other important works, in London, a city where he greatly enjoyed performing his works. In 1833, he took on the post of conductor at Düsseldorf, giving concert performances of Handel's "Messiah" among others. That same year, he composed many of his own vocal works, including "Lord, Have Mercy Upon Us,", and the Opera, "Trala. A frischer Bua bin i", as well as the "Italian Symphony".

    At the age of 26, Mendelssohn moved to Leipzig and became conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, performing works by Bach and Beethoven among others; at the time, there was little interest in Bach's music, but Mendelssohn changed all that, using his own popularity and the four hundred singers and soloists of the Singakademie to help renew interest in the great composer's work. Earlier, in 1829, Mendelssohn had made his debut as a Maestro, being the first to conduct Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" since the composer's death in 1750, and more importantly, 100 years after Bach's own premiere performance of the work. Mendelssohn performed the piece.

    In 1832, Mendelssohn married Cécile Jeanrenaud, the daughter of a Protestant clergyman. It was a happy marriage, and they had five children, Carl, Marie, Paul, Felix and Lilli. Over the years that followed, Mendelssohn was very prolific, and in addition to numerous composition, he gave several successful performances of his work, and those of other great composers. Mendelssohn composed several works for the piano, which was highly popular at the time; but he also wrote for many different combinations of instruments and voices.


    In 1842, Mendelssohn performed private concerts for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, who were both strong supporters of his work. A year later, Mendelssohn founded and directed the Leipzig Conservatory, where he also taught when his busy schedule permitted it. Despite being a generally happy and pleasant individual, Mendelssohn was sometimes a little too strict with his pupils; this was perhaps due to the fact that he was so passionate about music, and had a difficult time listening to the beginners' mistakes of his pupils. Nonetheless, the Conservatory remained one of the most prestigious music institutions in Germany for half a century.

    In addition to his post at the Conservatory, Mendelssohn was named director of the Music Section of the Academy of Arts in Berlin by King Frederick of Prussia, but this appointment wasn't entirely pleasing for Mendelssohn, who was often asked to compose on demand. He was left with little time for his own work, but he still managed to compose such masterpieces as the Ruy Blas overture, stage music for Shakespeare's " A Midsummer Night's Dream", of which the now world-famous "Wedding March" was a part of, and "The Scottish Symphony", the third of the five symphonies he composed during his lifetime.

    Felix Mendelssohn was very close to his family; from his sister Fanny to his father, to his own wife and children, and he cherished the moments spent with them. When his father died in 1835, Mendelssohn felt he had lost his best friend. Seven years later, his mother died, adding to the tragedy, but the worst was yet to come; following a Christmas family reunion, his sister Fanny suffered a stroke while rehearsing for a Sunday concert. She died on May 14th, 1847. Felix Mendelssohn is said to have screamed and fainted upon hearing the sad news, devastated by the loss. Needless to say, Mendelssohn's mood did not improve following Fanny's death, and he himself suffered two strokes, the last of which killed him on November 4th, 1847. He was 38 years old. He was buried alongside his sister in in the cemetery of Holy Cross Church in Berlin.

    While most of his life was spent in happiness, the final years of his life saw mounting grief and tragedy; however, this did not deter him from composing, and throughout the hardships he maintained the same degree of inspiration and the same quality of work, despite his intensely busy schedule. Some critics may argue that he would have been another Bach or Mozart if he had suffered more in life, as the "tortured artist" cliché dictates. However, it is interesting to note that even in death, there were more tragic incidents which marred Mendelssohn's reputation. Nearly a hundred years after his death, the Nazis tried to discredit him, taking down his statue in Leipzig, and even going as far as forbidding the study and performance of his music.

    Of course, none of their efforts to silence the voice of genius had any success, and Mendelssohn is now considered the 19th century equivalent of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Most critics agree that Mendelssohn's most vibrant contributions were in the choral and organ music genres, which was probably the result of his deep admiration for Bach and Handel. Mendelssohn will remain the most successful composer of his time, but more importantly, one of the most gifted and talented, surely deserving a place alongside greats such as Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven, in the pantheon of musical Giants.



    My 5 favorite works of Mendelssohn

    Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream

    Elijah

    The Hebrides Overture

    Violin Concerto In E minor

    Piano Concerto In E minor No. 3 ( A rather newly discovered work of Mendelssohn), astonishing concerto, totally amazing.

    Regards,

    Saul
    Last edited by Saul_Dzorelashvili; Dec-23-2010 at 00:37.

  15. #45
    Senior Member Olias's Avatar
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    I had not heard of the discovery of a third PC. When in Mendelssohn's life was it composed?

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